The Battle Plan

December 3, 2013

It's hard to win 12 games! We've seen that the last few years as many teams throughout the season fall victim to the intense competition of the great sport of college football.

Our Crimson Tide teams have won 12 games in a season seven times in our history – including four times in the last five seasons. For some perspective on that achievement, consider that since 1944 it has happened less than 60 times nationally prior to this season at all levels of college football. So, Crimson Tide teams have accounted for roughly 20 percent of those 12-win seasons overall. Our recent success is further proof that we are truly living in a golden age of Alabama football. We cannot lose sight of that.

Our game Saturday was a difficult loss. There was never a time during the game that I didn't feel confident Alabama would win – until we lost! The jolt was hard, the feelings intense. But a new week is here and the focus is back where it belongs – recruiting and preparing to go to a bowl game in pursuit of our 12th win and a high national ranking.

We are focused on the future, but I'd like to linger a bit on the past. Tough times make us appreciate good times. Three national championships in the last four years in the most competitive era of college football may never happen again.

I want all Alabama fans to join me in pausing to thank our coaches and players who have brought us so much joy, happiness, and success these past few years. And especially for winning 11 straight games this year (15 straight dating back to the 2012 season), with a chance to win 12, and finish in the top 2, 3, or 4 in the nation and in a BCS bowl game.

If you, like me, are grateful, I encourage you to show it by making a special effort to come to our bowl game, wherever it might be, to show our coaches and players, especially these seniors, how much we appreciate them. This would also be meaningful to our current recruits and underclassmen who we are counting on to keep Alabama at the top of the college football world in the future.

We ask a lot of our players and coaches as they work year-round to compete at the highest levels in their respective sports. A major strength of the University of Alabama for decades has been the undying spirit and support of the Alabama fan base. We're all counting on you to show up “loud and proud” for our next game.

In 2009 Alabama had 22 scholarship players play in the Rose Bowl BCS Championship with diplomas. That is a current BCS record. I am proud to say that this year's Alabama team is on track to break that record in our upcoming bowl game.

Our football team started the season with 13 scholarship players that had already received their undergraduate degrees. That is more than any Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school. In the next two weeks we expect 12 more players to graduate, two of them with master's degrees. These young men are living proof that at the University of Alabama our student-athletes can compete at the highest levels in their sports while getting a quality education that prepares them to compete at the highest levels in life after graduation.

Several of our football players are up for national acclaim due to their outstanding achievements this season. I encourage you to keep your attention focused next week on the individual awards that will be given.

As of this writing, we have several players that are deserving of All-America honors and could possibly win some of that individual hardware, including quarterback AJ McCarron who is a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Davey O'Brien Award, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Senior CLASS Award. While we are hopeful that AJ will be a Heisman Trophy finalist, we probably will not know for sure about that until early next week.

Our outstanding linebacker C.J. Mosley is a finalist for the Bednarik Award, the Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award and the Lombardi Award. It is a rare achievement for a player to earn such acclaim. These honors not only recognize his excellence as a linebacker but also as one of college football's best defenders, regardless of position.

Safety Landon Collins (Thorpe Award), left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Outland Trophy) and punter Cody Mandell (Ray Guy Award) all were semi-finalists for honors recognizing their respective positions.

Such acclaim is not only a point of pride for the players themselves and our fans, but is representative of the outstanding development these young men have achieved under such excellent coaching.

Congratulations to Coach Ed Allen, his staff, and our women's volleyball team for their selection to play in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament. In his third season at Alabama, Coach Allen has led a remarkable turnaround in our volleyball program. This year's team finished with a 24-9 overall record, including an 11-7 record in SEC play and will open NCAA play at Palo Alto, Calif., against Oklahoma this Thursday, Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m. central time. This will be the first time for Volleyball to be in an NCAA tournament since 2007. Be sure to tune in to to listen to play-by-play of the team's match this Thursday evening.

Our men's and women's basketball teams will host home games this week. Coach Anthony Grant's men's team hosts North Florida on Wednesday night, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum, while Coach Kristy Curry's women's team hosts Tennessee-Martin on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Foster Auditorium. Both teams need your support. I encourage you to be a factor in their success by making your presence felt.

Let's Keep the Tide Rising!

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    The Battle Plan